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zo6             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
The studies of comparative philology are increasingly proving that the different languages developed out of certain basic root-tongues, and that these in turn have developed out of one common, primeval, universal language. When these languages are one day tracked down to their primitive glyphs, the ultimate source will, I venture to predict, be found to have arisen in Atlantean days,
It was said by the ancients that hieroglyphs "speak, signify and hide." This meant that they possessed a threefold meaning. There was first of all their simple, ordinary phonetic value, necessary for speaking the language: beyond this value the common man was unable to go. Secondly, there was the further meaning which hieroglyphs carried to the scribe; the written meaning, or the symbolical expression in grammatical form on papyri and stone of the illiterate man's spoken words. Finally there was the esoteric meaning, the one known only to the initiated priests and kept secret by them.
"The Words of God"—such was the description or name given to the system of hieroglyphs by the Egyptians; not only because the system was believed to have been revealed to them by one of the gods, but also because the secret meaning of these strange characters was concealed from the masses. That meaning was revealed to those alone who had been initiated into the Mysteries. And no Egyptologist of to-day has done more than translate the popular meaning of hieroglyphs, although in so doing, he has done magnificently; the rest is beyond him. For "the Words of God" demand to be brought to them a spiritual and reverent consideration before they yield their innermost secret. The same applies to a comprehension of the secrets which were revealed in the initiation chamber of the Egyptian Mysteries.
Plotinus, an initiate who lived in ancient Alexandria, hinted at the symbolical nature of hieroglyphs when he wrote:
"In the rigorous quest of truth or in the exposition which they made freely to their disciples, Egyptian sages did not use written signs (which are but imitations of voice and speech) in their temples, but they drew figures and revealed the thought contained by the form of those images, in a way that each image enclosed a portion of knowledge and wisdom. It is the crystallization of a truth. Afterwards the master or pupil extracted the contents of the image, analysed it in words aod found the reason why it was thus and not otherwise/'